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Acuña absent, Inciarte returns for opener in Milwaukee

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Get well soon, Ronald!

Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

The last time it seemed like Ronald Acuña Jr.’s season was in jeopardy, when he was struck by a pitch on the wrist, he surprised everyone by making the starting lineup in the very next game. Tonight, a day after exiting a game with an ankle problem, no such luck: Ehire Adrianza starts in his place and leads off.

The rest of the lineup is what you’d expect, pretty much, but with Ender Inciarte returning to take over center field. Inciarte comes back to a 104 wRC+ in 20 PAs. Given all the injuries the Braves have faced, this is of course a novel lineup.

The Brewers will take aim at Drew Smyly in this arrangement:

You may not be familiar with Tyrone Taylor, a low-ranked prospect who’s nonetheless hit very well as a major leaguer (without really any xwOBA overperformance). Urias and Piña have really struggled with the bat so far in 2021, but both have decent xwOBAs. Reyes, meanwhile, will be making his eighth start of the season and has not given the Brewers much of anything at this point. Craig Counsell is constantly mixing and matching his personnel this year, so not surprisingly, this is the first time for this group of eight together in the lineup this way in any order.

Matchup-wise, everyone in Atlanta’s lineup save William Contreras has seen Houser at least once, though only Ozuna has faced him more than five times. Freeman is the only Brave with a dinger off Houser to this point. The same cannot be said of the Brewers, where of their starting eight, only Cain, Garcia, and Shaw have stepped in the box against Smyly. Smyly has actually never retired Cain, allowing a homer, a bloop single, and an intentional walk to him, all during the 2016 season.

Statcast graphic time? Oh yeah.